Women in The Netherlands is a new category in this blog, it is something that was in my head for about a year; interviewing women from different cultures, backgrounds, lives but who all live in The Netherlands. For many reasons it did not become concrete until I met Lavinia. When I met her, as I mentioned it in my post about Lavinia cakes’n buttons, it felt right away good and I was curious to know more about her and discover her journey. Perfect occasion to start this project. Right time, right place, right person. Oh joy!
You might wondering why? Well, during my childhood, I have been surrounded by women, strong women, and each of them told me and taught me in their own words and own specific way to be strong and independent, to not give up and be patient, to be kind and polite, to look up and not down and no matter what to stay elegant.
Although (south of) France is only a few thousand kilometers away from The Netherlands, differences between those two countries can be big. For example, one of the questions that surprised me the most when I started to work was: “how many hours/days per week do you work?” And I thought, wtf?? As a freelancer this question was not really relevant for me and as a French lady even less because in France either you work fulltime either you don’t. There is no “polder” zone in between. When I became a mother and furthermore when my first one was in age to go to primary school, the question of how many days/hours became clearer in my mind. When in France school finishes at 16.30 and every school offers the possibility to keep the children a bit longer, which allows women to work fully and make eight hours work a day, in Holland it’s quite different. Kids are free around 14.30/15.30 and then start the sacred moment of “playdates”. So either you have a super nanny (and a fat purse) or family on which you can rely, either well, you cut down the hours. I have to say that though at the beginning of my life here I thought that this system was an insult to the freedom and development of the women, I made peace with it and actually learned to enjoy those special moments and I feel blessed and grateful to be home at 14.30 when kids arrive from school. But this is an other story… And here, I don’t want to talk about myself but I want to hear and share others women stories. What do they do in their life? What motivates them? How do they manage to find a balance in their life and be able to be a woman, a working woman and for some of them a wife and/or a mother? What is it to be a woman in The Netherlands in the XXIe century? Lavinia answered the first to all of those questions and hopefully many others will follow.
Last but not least,I would like to dedicate this part of my blog to the special women who gave me a hand when I was down, encouraged me in doubts, shared my laughs and cries and most of all inspired me with their strength and vision of life.
In loving memories of my dear great-great aunt Rose, my great-aunt Marie-Louise, my paternal grand-mother, and of course a special thought to my very alive, lovely, funny, surprising and very stubborn mother. Love you all!
All rights reserved Carole Rey